Friday, 27 December 2013

Family - Bah Humbug Warning

Lady Diana Spencer aka Princess Diana or Lady Di.  Now there's a name or three we all know.  No matter how old you are, even if you weren't alive in her lifetime, most people will know that name. She is famous not only for her position within the English Royal Family, but for the Humanitarian opportunities that position afforded her. The cute penguin picture above comes from a website that is a list of quotes from many people, and also lists many of the wonderful things Lady Di said. Some profound, some sentimental and some just sounded wonderful, because she said them.  People listened to her, they loved her.

This is why I wish she had said something more than this about family, something realistic.

What if you have no family.  What if your friends are the only constant you have in your life?  When it comes to the crunch, where do you fit in "that" family? What if you are not a part of the "huddle" depicted above?
It is wonderful to have good friends. I know. I'm blessed with many good friends. *Waves to those who I have heard from over Christmas*

I have lifelong friends that make it feel like we've never been apart when we get together, friends I've met at work and still keep in touch with despite life changes and location, friends who have been brought in to my life through common denominators and who have been great strength and support for me, friends who share many of life's woes with me and we support each other; I have many friends.

Friends, not family.

So when people say (and believe) that family is the most important thing in the world, where does that leave me and people like me?

I can tell you.

You are never the first person they phone with good news like the announcement of an engagement, wedding, pregnancy; on the other side of that, I suppose it is a good thing, you will never be the person to get "that" phone call either.

When your friends have family functions, you always hear about them, later, and how wonderful they were and how much fun was had and how happy everyone was. Or, in this day and age, you get to see the photos on Facebook.

Precious moments of "drop in" and visit never happen, people always plan to see their friends, make appointments, plan an outing.

When you fight with friends, they don't have to be your friend anymore. When you reconcile with friends, the relationship is scarred, it is never the same and there is no pressure from within any structure for it to be repaired, it's just you and your friend.

You very rarely hear families say, oh well, if he/she (brother/sister, Uncle/Aunt) is going to be like that, you are better of without him/her in your life. Again, the pressure from within is there persisting with the value of that family relationship and being part of a bigger whole.

WHY NOW? WHY THE FUCK NOW?  I hear you ask .... Come on Sandra, we are all still trying to get our colons to work properly after the feast that was, wallowing in the glow of over indulgence and simply being spoilt by our loved ones ... We are getting ready to make ourselves sick again, and try to stay up until midnight for the fireworks! We are away, on holidays, with our families ..... OOOOOOOHHHHHHH, now you get it.

This concept is what I ponder at this time of year, every year, because it is said, about this time of year ... "It's all about spending time with your family, being together.".

I've taken to just saying to people "We don't do Christmas", "We're not Christians" etc in response to the questions, 1. How was your Christmas Day? 2. What did you do? 3. Did Santa come? 4. What did you get? 5. Are you going away? 6. What are you doing for New Year? At least people who know me have learnt to be polite and not to ask about family, probably more to save themselves the embarrassment than for the emotions it may (or may not) stir in me.

Well, here are the answers.
1. I spent the day trying not to cry in front of the kids and justifying my complete disdain for the whole holiday. So, the answer is "Good!" Since I didn't actually cry at any point.
2. We slept in until about 10am, we sat around for most of the rest of the day, we all had showers, we went for a drive, we came home, we had dinner and we all went to bed.
3. No, Santa never actually comes, he is a lie, a marketing ploy.
4. Here's what we got ... that will save me having to recite the list again! (See pic below)
5. Ummmm, No ...
6. I will be in bed by 11pm.

So, I suppose you are all wondering what gem I will pull from my repertoire to make this seem like there is a Happy Ending .... well there is, NOW you are all more aware that not everyone has what is considered a "Normal" Christmas.

Now, maybe when you, out of habit, ask that friend of yours, your colleague, the woman at the check out in Coles what they did for Christmas, you might consider, the answer may not be what you expected. Loneliness is a feeling that people experience all, year, round. It doesn't go away on "special days", those days are special because of the experience of the day, and if you have nobody to share that experience with, well ...

Christmas, Easter, New Year etc etc, are different for everyone, and while our Christmas seems to have been one nobody would want, it was ours, and, despite all else, we have a roof over our heads, we did not starve to death, we weren't bombed nor was our house ransacked or set on fire, like the reality of people in various parts of the world, so, we still have much to be grateful for. So there ...
In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable. John Steinbeck


  1. I read just before Xmas that a quarter of households in Australia comprise single people, who suffer during festive periods, such as Christmas, and I find Princess Diana's statement and themed pic of happy penguins, smug, trite and downright insensitive.

    I am fortunate in having a family, but one of my best friends does not. Every celebration that's supposedly for happy families (Xmas and Easter especially), he feels an overwhelming sense of misery and loneliness. He 'lies low' until it's all over.

    It occurs to me that you have a family - 2 wonderful boys (who are lucky to have a mother like you). Happy 2014 to you and your boys...happy beginnings, not happy endings. :)

    1. Yes, I hear you. Unfortunately that feeling of laying low is something I feel too, but I also feel the pressure of providing a Christmas I just don't have in me. I am looking forward to the opportunities I hope 2014 will bring. xo